Secrets of the Book by Erin Fry

Secrets of the Book by Erin Fry (2014)

I highly recommend this book for readers ages eight to twelve.   It is an adventurous read.  A boy named Spencer (who is going blind eventually, though not yet in this book) and his friend Gregor (who is on the autism spectrum) love to run, and that is how they become friends.   Spencer’s mom is into doing kind things and so has him signed up to visit regularly with an older man at an assisted living home.  The older gentleman is Ed.  Ed has a book he acquired many years before in Europe.  It is rather magic – if just the right person taps the page and pulls the book mark across, the person on that page will spring to life outside the book.   We readers meet Teddy Roosevelt, Socrates, and Martin Luther King, among others.   However, there is someone after Ed, Spencer, Gregor and Ed’s great-granddaughter Mel who want to get his hands on this book.  And there is another mysterious gentleman who looks remarkably like Al Capone.  How does this all tie together?  Read this book and find out!

The Ability by M. M. Vaughan

The Ability by M. M. Vaughan
Copyright 2013

This is a fantasy and/or science fiction story is intended for middle grade readers. The main character and his friends are all 12 years old.  Christopher Lane and his friends have been chosen to go to a private government school because they show particularly strong “Ability” skills.  The premise is that all twelve year olds (starting with their 12th birthday, and lasting only until they turn thirteen) have some “ability” but some have it stronger. They have been invited to a posh school to learn how it works, and to help save the Prime Minister who is in danger – from an incident that happened thirty years ago.  Meanwhile, there are twin boys being trained elsewhere to use their abilities for more sinister reasons.  

I enjoyed this book.  There is nothing on this book to say that is the first of a series, but it could be, indeed. The ending, which I will not give away, lets me think that there will be more in the future.

Teen/YA Fiction Titles Recently Read

First, I do apologize for not updating this blog in quite some time.  We moved 1800 miles from where we were the last time I posted on here.  Life has been busy.  My laptop also developed a severe problem which is still being solved.   This has been a mixed blessing.  Mixed because I’ve had less chance to be on the Internet in general, but good, because I have been able to devote more time to reading!  In 2011, I read 75 books in total . . . a very low number for me.  It is still November in 2012, but I am nearing the 130 mark in my total.

Here are some of the Teen/YA title I have read in the last six weeks or so (with a few comments):

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons – I started telling my husband about this one, and he said that it is good that we have such books.  It reminds us about how fortunate we are to have our freedom.   The US had been decimated in  a war, and now the President/dictator has made everything about “morals” and “family.”  But what is family, really?  And should single parents be punished unfairly for decisions made 18 years earlier?   It is a lot to think about.   I am looking forward to the sequel . . . which, according the cover, might take place in Chicago.

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullins – I also read the first book, Ashfall, earlier this year. I really liked the first book, but didn’t care for this second one nearly so much.  The first one ended much more hopefully, which this second one truly leaves the reader hanging after a lot of truly awful scenes throughout the book.  That said, I will read the third one when it comes out.  The whole story is about a teen who survives a lot of things after a giant dormant volcano erupts and sends the midwest into an ice age.
Here is my brief review of Ashfall:

Spookygirl by Jill Baguchinsky – After reading dystopian fiction, this book was a nice change!  I think my 13 year old niece would like this book.   A high school sophomore can see and talk to ghosts, while her dad is a mortician.   I really recommend this book for tweens and young teens.  It is a nice blend of the freaky, the scary and family and friendships.  

Courtships and Curses by Marissa Doyle – Historical fiction with a little magic.  It takes place in London during “the Season”.  Sophie has come out in society.   People are surprised to see her, and looking so good, because they heard she’d become less intelligent and “hump-backed” from her illness.  No one know she’s a witch, too, and Sophie thinks this doesn’t matter because not only did her leg (but not her brain or her back, people!) become lame from her bout with polio, but she thinks she has lost her magic, too.   I really, really enjoyed this book.  (I would actually recommend this one to my niece as well.) 
Yesterday by C. K. Kelly Martin – Another vaguely dystopian fiction . . . except much of the book doesn’t really take place in the future.  It is more about time travel . . . Freya now lives in 1985, but she knows something isn’t right.  She still has memories that were supposed to have been wiped, but they weren’t totally gone.  
All These Lives by Sarah Wylie – Not dystopian!   Dani’s twin sister has leukemia.   Dani’s mother always told Dani that she had nine lives because they’ve survived an accident years before.  Now, Dani believes that if she tries to kill herself, that she’d be able to pass her life onto her sister.   She survives every attempt, a little worse for wear.   Obviously, Dani feels responsible for her sister’s life.   Overall, a very well-written book.

A World Away by Nancy Grossman – Amish girl leave Iowa for the Chicago suburbs for her Rumschpringe! She is trying to figure out where she truly belongs in life, with a few surprises along the way.  I really enjoyed this book, and couldn’t put it down until the end.

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught – Told from the POV of a protagonist with schizophrenia.  It was quite an experience to read this book.   I highly recommend it.

Choke by Diana Lopez – A story about girls who are befriended by the new girl in school who seems very cool and rather exotic.  She always wears scarves around her neck . . . it turns out she chokes to get high.  I had no idea this is a “thing.”

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle – I thought I would like this book as being a combo Amish/Vampire/Dystopian novel.   I am not altogether sure I liked it at all.  The vampires are very Stoker-ish or maybe they even reminded me more of the vampires in Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot.  Which took me back to my young teenage years when I had insomia due to reading ‘Salem’s Lot at 9 pm.  I read The Hallowed Ones at night, and then was imagining all sorts of odd things . . . and the head of our bed is against a window.   Oops.   Maybe I would have liked it better in the bright light of a sunny day!  Pretty much, there is something like a vampire infection spreading through the country, and the rural Amish community is not safe from it.

Epitaph Road  by David Patenaude – I actually enjoyed this dystopian novel.   The premise is that less than a hundred years from now, a virus will sweep the world – one that only kills males.   Women will be able to rule the world much more peacefully . . . but not all is as perfect as it seems.   I recommend this one.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo – Aliens.  Sort of.   Not zombies.  I appreciate aliens more than zombies, I have discovered.  This is an interesting read.

Bewitching Season

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle (2008)

I heard about this book from the YALSA listserv. It is a by a first-time author, and I feel it is very well-done.

It is unlike a lot of other books with fantasy themes. Magic exsists, and amongst the well-to-do families of London in the mid-1800s, when Queen Victoria is about to take the throne. Twins Persephone and Penelope are witches, but no one in society is to be made aware of this. They are also being presented out in society, with the hopes of making good matches for husbands. Their neighbor is also grown up, and showing much interest in Persy. Pen is much more interested in society, while Persy is extremely nervous and upset by the prospect of balls and dinner parties. Meanwhile, their teacher/nanny who was also teaching them magic on the side (and their mother supposedly doesn’t know) is now missing, and the two young women are having dreams about where she might be.

This is a well-written book that I highly enjoyed because it brings historical fiction, fantsy, romance, and some mystery together in a fun way.